Sometimes I feel like a mother hen—I want everyone around me to feel happy and be safe, and so I do whatever I can to make that happen. Trouble is, I can’t be everywhere at once nor can I control others’ circumstances for their good. My only recourse, then, is to let go and give God space to work in other people’s lives.
Here’s one example. My youngest daughter visited us on the weekend. She’s a grown woman—age 28, married nearly two years, and completing her Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy. When the time came to head home—a four-hour ride away—she dressed in her black leathers and climbed aboard her motorcycle.
I ride motorcycles, too, so I understand the need to be clearly visible to other motor vehicles. I also understand the importance of driving in daylight hours to ensure the best visibility. That’s why my heart nearly stopped when my daughter, after revving the engine, paused for a moment and said to her dad, “Can you stand behind my bike and tell me if the taillight and blinkers are working okay?”
The blinkers worked well, but the taillight did not. She and her dad tried every repair imaginable but without success. An hour passed, and that hour meant she would no longer arrive at her destination as early as she’d hoped. Darkness would fall before her trip ended. Staying here overnight and taking the bike to a repair shop in the morning wasn’t an option; she had to report for work at 7 AM.
My mother hen instincts urged me to hop in the car and follow her home to ensure she arrived safely. In fact, those instincts caused me to suggest this as an option, but she looked at me as though I had two heads and said, “That’s not necessary, Mom.” And so I backed off. And I prayed. And prayed. And prayed. And I made her promise to text me the moment she arrived safely at home (which she did).
I wonder how King David felt when the prophet Nathan told him that his son would build the Temple. I wonder if his first thoughts were something like, “Are you kidding? He doesn’t know the first thing about construction. Maybe he should start with tree forts or play houses or something like that. Starting his reign with a project of this magnitude could be fatal for his reputation. What if he makes huge errors that cost a fortune? Maybe I ought to stick around to supervise and to ensure that everything goes okay.”
I find reassurance in 1 Chronicles 17:13-14—“I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will not take my unfailing love from him as I took it from Saul, who ruled before you. I will establish him over my dynasty and my kingdom for all time, and his throne will be secure forever.” God gave these words to the prophet Nathan, who relayed them to King David when he told him that Solomon would build the Temple.
These words likely brought reassurance to King David, too. They reminded him that, just as God had proven sovereign in his own life, so He would prove sovereign in Solomon’s life. King David responded by praying and focusing on the Lord, and then giving Him the space necessary to work in Solomon’s life.
My behaving like a mother hen won’t ensure my loved ones’ happiness and safety. Neither will my hovering or helping, no matter how honorable my intentions may be. There comes a time when I must step aside and trust God with their lives. Can you—will you—do the same with those you love?